‘Yes, you’ve beaten Venus Wil­liams, but now it’s time to tidy your room’

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Wimbledon -

was seven to boost her prospects. With so much ex­pec­ta­tion, Candi says she must en­sure her daugh­ter “is healthy and happy”. “When I look at her, I am look­ing for her emo­tions, her facial ex­pres­sion, to see if she is a happy in­di­vid­ual,” she says. “I want to raise chil­dren who are happy and ap­pre­cia­tive.”

Gauff ’s 6-4, 6-4 tri­umph against 39-year-old Wil­liams on No1 Court was “ev­ery­thing fi­nally com­ing to­gether” – and her mother says it was no sur­prise to see her nor­mally con­trolled daugh­ter in tears. “Peo­ple who have watched Coco since she was in the ju­niors know she can have peaks of emo­tions that can come out and she could give up a game. One of the things we talked to her about most is that, ‘Only Coco can beat Coco’. What I mean by that is that Coco is in con­trol of what goes on, and if Coco has the self-con­trol, then the per­son is go­ing to have to beat [her].”

Hav­ing turned pro­fes­sional at such a ten­der age, Gauff has been at­tend­ing “vir­tual” high school, where she logs in on calls streamed to teach­ers back home. “She is al­ready a pro­fes­sional, but she has to carry on study­ing to get her high school di­ploma,” Candi ex­plains. “And from there she has to go on to col­lege. It would be just on­line, a few cour­ses at a time, but I am a firm be­liever that your brain still has to be worked. If that is not work­ing, other things stop. So, as a teacher, I make sure she keeps up with it all.”

Re­mem­ber­ing that ten­nis is still “sec­ondary” has helped her keep her head un­der pres­sure. Candi says Cori gets her calm de­meanour from her. “I am go­ing to say me, be­cause my hus­band has that ‘fire’ male bas­ket­ball play­ers have – they are ag­gres­sive and high-spir­ited.”

Candi ex­plains how her daugh­ter has plenty of time for other in­ter­ests, say­ing she has de­vel­oped a mild ob­ses­sion with Jaden Smith, the son of Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Will Smith. “One of the things we do is, when you are prac­tis­ing, you are fo­cused, you are 100 per cent, you give it your all, and then away from the court, it’s re­laxed. We’re not think­ing about the ten­nis per se. We’re en­joy­ing life grow­ing up. I taught school for 19 years and one of my things I preach is chil­dren hav­ing child­hood. That’s one of the things that I’ve stepped back and made sure, ‘I’m the one, I’m the par­ent’. I can do that in the cir­cum­stances she is in.”

Af­ter her daugh­ter’s un­ex­pected tri­umph, Candi was forced to hastily ar­range ac­com­mo­da­tion. They will not be tempt­ing fate by book­ing a flight home ahead of her sec­ond-round show­down. When she even­tu­ally re­turns home there will be high school ex­ams to dread. “I had to email the teach­ers, ‘Can we back off a lit­tle bit while she fin­ishes up the tour­na­ment?’ Im­me­di­ately after­wards she has to get back to the school work.

“It is hard to get gaps of time when she can fo­cus. But I tell her, ‘Your job is to be a stu­dent first. You have to do your job, ten­nis is sec­ondary’.”

‘I tell her your job is to be a stu­dent first. You have to do your job, ten­nis is sec­ondary’

Fash­ion and Fea­tures: P19

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